The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, including $404 million for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan. Prior to the vote, members opposed to the NBAF plan tried to remove those funds from the bill.
According to an article from the Kansas City Star, New York Representative Tim Bishop, a Democrat, filed the amendment. Bishop’s district includes the Plum Island facility that the NBAF would replace. The House rejected the amendment by a vote of 345 to 80, then went on to approve the bill by a vote of 245 to 182.
Like the rest of the Kansas Delegation, Representative Lynn Jenkins supported funds for the NBAF. “Not only will the NBAF accelerate America’s ability to protect ourselves, our food supply, and the agricultural economy from biological threats, it will also be the world’s premier animal health research facility and further solidify our nation’s place as the international leader in animal health,” she said in a news release. “The NBAF is needed to replace the obsolete and increasingly expensive Plum Island Animal Disease Center. This lab was built in the 1950s and has reached the end of its life. The facility does not contain the necessary biosafety level to meet the NBAF research requirements, and it never will. Any attempts to upgrade Plum Island would cost more than building the NBAF.”
Jenkins also notes construction on the facility has already begun, Congress has already appropriated $127.5 million, and the state of Kansas and the city of Manhattan have already committed more than $200 million towards the project.
The Senate has not yet taken up the bill, and its fate remains unclear. Earlier articles prior to the House vote framed the issue as an epic budget battle between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans. The President’s budget, which he released in April, includes $714 million to fully fund construction of the NBAF. The House Bill contains just $404 million to fund the project through this fiscal year. A statement from the White House prior to the House vote indicated the President’s advisors would recommend a veto of the bill if it implements the House Republican Budget framework.